Gabriel Announces John’s Birth

John Paton was a missionary in the New Hebrides Islands. One night hostile natives surrounded the mission station, intent on burning out the Patons and killing them. Paton and his wife prayed during that terror-filled night that God would deliver them. When daylight came they … More


Luke takes us back to the time before John the Baptist was conceived, and introduces us to his parents, Zacharias and Elizabeth who were unable to have children. Zacharias was a priest, and he was serving for about  a two week period in the Temple (vv. 8-11). King David had divided the priesthood of Israel into twenty-four divisions and each division was to serve two weeks at a time annually in the temple. Zacharias’ division was on duty. He was chosen by lot to be the priest who offered the incense. Because of the large number of priests in each division this would probably be the only time in his life when he would be allowed to perform this task.

The angel proceeds to give his divine announcement (vv. 12-17). As Zacharias was praying inside at the altar of incense a crowd gathered outside the temple to pray. Suddenly, “There appeared  unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense” (v. 11). It was a very startling thing as no living Israelite had  ever seen an angel. This was a tremendous moment. It was the first time in over 400 years, as far as we know, that God had directly spoken to His people. This Gabriel was the same angel who appeared five hundred years before to Daniel (Dan. 8:15-16). Naturally Zacharias was  stunned. The angel told him not to be afraid and that his prayer had been answered. The angel’s message was two-fold:

  1. Elisabeth was to bear a son and name him John.
  2. John would have the spirit and power of Elijah and was to prepare the way for the Messiah.


If God chose to speak to me through an angel, I wonder how I would react, especially if He chose to perform some miraculous thing like He did with Zacharias. Would I believe Him or would I be prone to doubt?

Luke 1:8-17 (English Standard Version)

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